Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Geelong Weekend

AUS VIC Geelong DSC05229
Originally uploaded by yewenyi.
Every time I look at this photo I want to shout out... Yes it's the sail. It's still there!

After the confusion of Ewen being in Sydney and myself being on the (not really south) south coast. (Not really, because it faces east which would make it the east coast.) I arrived in Melbourne. The Scimitar was taking part in the Geelong Weekend. This regatta is held in Geelong every Australia Day with the first race starting in Melbourne. It is the largest regatta in the Southern Hemisphere. Back to the Scimitar. They were short of crew (there being three and needing at least 4), so myself with my great knowledge of yacht racing (I had been on some Hobie cats and was once on Apollo III as a tourist), was enlisted to crew on this forty foot 1950's technology cruiser. As it turned out, several of the crew who had helped race down from Melbourne on Wednesday had unexpectedly staid behind and there were 6 crew.

The pre race maneuvering was quite interesting. We were in communication (shouting) with this other yacht several times and with 5 minutes to the start, we still had not heard the starting guns or infact worked out where they had cunningly hidden the starting line. The delayed start gun went off and this dingy with lots of marker buoys was seen zooming around. There were two races, and we were in the classics race. They got the main race off before our race started some twenty minutes late. As it turned out, they moved all the buoys and adding the missing ones. For a while there the first buoy was behind the starting line, but eventually they moved the starting line and lo-and-behold the first buoy was in front of the line. So in the end we were off and racing. In all the confusion we were no where near the line when the race started, but out superior boat speed allowed us to start reeling in the opposition.

Around the first marker we raised the spinnaker. The winds were still quite light, but we succeeded in passing all of the other boats. However, they had moved the second marker by about a mile, probably because there was a giant cargo ship parked in the middle of the course. With the spinnaker raised, we could only sail in certain directions, which would have been great if the course was where the navigation notes said it should have been. As it was we sailed past the marker, several hundred meters inshore. Our competition noticed the true location of the marker and we were overtaken. Coming around it seemed that not many of us (me more than anyone else) had much idea of how to bring down the spinnaker. As a result it looked like landing in the water. I ran over to help (well just hauling on the spinnaker to get it on board seemed like a good idea) and the sail only spent a short time in the water. However, while we were doing all of this the fleet sailed past as we were almost dead in the water.

On the third and longest leg, we took the opposite tack to the rest of the fleet. We were so far behind that it was worth taking the non-preferred course to see if we could get a lucky wind shift. After a bit of bickering about the missed mark and spinnaker change, we determined the location of the next buoy. We caught up with the slower boats and after rounding the third buoy were closing on our opposition boat in this photo. We came close but were not able to overtake them by the time we crossed the finishing line. We finished third over the line, but fifth on handicap. This was the worst result, and on the three race aggreage, Scimitar was equal first overall.

You can view the slide show of these racing day photos below or click on the photo to see the individual image.

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